The semester began just a few weeks ago and already summer is a world away. Today one of my friend’s mom, visiting Harvard for the first time, said, “Time moves faster here.” It’s true. I’m learning so much so quickly that it’s a blur. Every week—every day, even—feels like a new world. I love that excitement with all of its newness and change. Of course, there are ups and downs. There have been many emotional dips, especially as we as individuals and as a school community struggle to process recent national shootings, international wars, and evil political rhetoric (I declined watching the presidential debate).
I loved my summer internship as a hospital chaplain but my attention has now shifted from that as I’m intensely focused on my classes and on my growing interest in the field of peace practices. I’m taking a rich combination of classes: Intro to Ministry Studies, Hebrew Bible, History of Western Christianity, “Meaning Making: Thinking Theologically about Field Education” (a class required for my internship), and a Religions and the Practice of Peace Colloquium. I’m immersed in the Religions and the Practice of Peace (RPP) initiative at HDS, which Dean Hempton founded in 2014. I’m co-facilitating RPP’s first “Transformative Leadership and Spiritual Development” class, which brings together graduate students from Harvard schools to learn from peace practitioners across sectors. We learn from leaders in conflict resolution and peace studies who come to mentor us on Monday evenings. I facilitate interfaith and interschool conversations during workshops with these mentors.
As a part of the RPP Colloquium (a separate course), I meet and learn from leaders who have witnessed great devastation of modern warfare and genocide. As they describe seeing their people massacred, and describe what they did and are doing now to create and plead for peace, I keep thinking about what it means to promote peace in an interfaith setting. I’m also asking how humanitarian organizations can effectively provide basic resources—food, water, shelter—for people who desperately need basic needs met before peace negotiations can begin.
Along with classes and RPP, I’m also focused on my role as chaplain intern in the Office of the Chaplain and Religious and Spiritual Life at Harvard Divinity, where I’m supervised by HDS chaplain Kerry Maloney. I support student religious organizations, facilitate and lead meetings for religious student organizations, attend worship events, and provide pastoral care.
As a chaplain at the hospital, no one knew me outside of that role. Now as a chaplain at HDS, people see all of me—the good, the bad—all the time (not just in professional settings but in casual settings); and no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m still branded as an official representative of HDS. I don’t want to misrepresent. I’m constantly asking Heavenly Father, “Help!” I just pray each day to listen and see. My offering is meager, but that’s why we’ve got grace. 😉
God knows we’re going to stumble all over the place, and He provides for that.